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Buyer Personas: What are They and How to Create Them

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Buyer Personas: What are They and How to Create Them

What do you think about when you think about your customer?

Or to put it another way, who do you think about when you think about your customer?

Are they male or female?

Young or old?

Are they wearing a sensible tank top or a radical t-shirt with a neon fire-breathing dragon on it?

What colour is their hair?

Are they wearing glasses?

How much money do they have to spend?

Who are they? What do they want?

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The thing is, unless you have a certain someone in mind, you could end up making marketing decisions that try to please everyone.

And if you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no-one.

This is why you need buyer personas! They make marketing easier – more targeted, more relevant and more likely to work.

The better you understand your customers and your prospective customers, the more you can tailor your marketing messages to appeal directly to them. According to a recent study, buyer personas can account for over 90% of a company’s sales. There’s real value to understanding your audience in this way!

What is a Buyer Persona?

Think of a buyer persona as a semi-fictional person who represents your ideal customer.

We say “semi-fictional” because, while this person doesn’t really exist, they do share a lot of traits with your target audience.

They’re about the same age and they have the same sorts of interests. But most importantly of all, they have the same sort of problems – and it’s these problems that you’re here to solve!

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Your buyer persona should have a name and a face.

This is because it’s so much easier to think of your persona as a real person with real needs when you’ve a face and name to think of. Working with a human face in mind makes marketing less generalised and more effective.

And as it’s very unlikely that just one sort of person will need your products or services, you’re most likely going to need multiple buyer personas. The more personas you have, the more you’ll be able to tailor your marketing for different segments of your audience.

Does your marketing ever feel like you’re throwing everything against the wall to see what sticks?

It can be frustrating!

But with buyer personas, things become more precise.

You can make better-informed decisions and create more targeted content that you know will strike a chord with your audience.

How to Create a Buyer Persona

Creating a buyer persona is easy enough, but it does take a bit of work.

Essentially, it’s a two-step process. First you need to ask the right people the right questions.

Then you need to collate your research and present your findings in a way that’s accessible and easy to understand.

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You need to do your research.

You need to conduct some interviews and send out some surveys.

You should gather information from as many sources as possible – from your existing customers, your potential customers and even random members of the public who might have similar needs to your target audience.

Some Practical Tips for Gathering the Information You Need

Talk to your sales team

They interact a lot with prospects and leads.

Ask them to think about the different types of customers they serve and the sorts of questions they’re commonly asked throughout the sales process.

If the same questions come up again and again, you can class them as FAQs. Understanding these FAQs can help you to understand your customers’ essential needs.

Analyse your existing customer database and your site analytics

Are there any trends? Can you spot any patterns?

Try breaking down your existing database into key demographics – age, gender, location.

Also see if you can uncover any trends concerning how they found you, and how they choose to consume your content.

Do they prefer mobile or desktop, for instance?

Optimise the contact forms on your website

This one’s a little more difficult, as the more fields there are to fill in, the less likely people are to fill them!

But you could experiment with asking certain questions in your contact forms that’ll help create your buyer personas. For instance, if you’re gathering leads as a B2B, you could ask your prospects to specify their company size.

But beyond this, you’re going to have to do some legwork!

You’re going to have to get out there and get interviewing!

Finding People to Interview for Your Buyer Persona Research

You should aim to interview at least three people for each persona you wish to create. You’ll know your work is done once you find you’re able to anticipate your interviewee’s answers before they even begin to talk.

There’s no better place to start than with your existing customer base. These are people who have already engaged with your company!

You’ll be able to ask them simple yet powerful questions, like “why did you choose us?”

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After talking to your existing customers, you’ll want to branch out to the sort of people who you know might need your services, but who probably don’t know so much about your company yet.

Look to your prospects, your leads, and your referrals.

Finally, it’s time to reach out to the wider public. You can post ads or requests for information on relevant forums. Outline the sort of person you’re looking for and offer a nice incentive in exchange for an interview. An Amazon gift card could do the trick. Then it’s a simple case of making a phone call or even meeting your interviewee for coffee. The important thing is to do things at their convenience. That way you’re more likely to get a good response.

Alternatively, you can use a specialised site like UserTesting or Survey Monkey to gather the information you need.

Questions to Ask Your Interviewees

What you ask will depend on who you are and what you do – whether you’re B2B, B2C, and whether you’re selling a product or a service. But here’s a few pointers for starters:

  • What do you do for a living?
  • What are the biggest challenges you face?
  • Which publications do you read?
  • When making purchases, how do you decide what’s best for you?

Your conversation should be friendly and informal, but be prepared to probe! For every answer you get, follow up by asking “why?”

This will encourage your interviewees to dig deeper, to really reflect upon their motives and behaviours. And it’s here where the real gold lies!

Using Your Research to Create Your Buyer Personas

Your buyer personas will be read by a lot of people – from the decision makers at the top, to your R&D people, your sales teams, your marketers and perhaps even some third-party specialists you recruit.

There’s no good sharing reams of messy interview notes and spreadsheets. Your data must be presented in a way that’s clear, concise and easy to understand.

You should include the following information in each buyer persona you create:

  • Name – Give your persona a name to bring them to life!
  • Job Title
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Main Goal
  • Secondary Goal
  • Primary Challenge
  • Secondary Challenge
  • Driving Personal Values

Depending on your specific marketing needs, you can add a little bit more information too. Things like personal hobbies, favourite social media platforms, preferred news sources – whatever it takes to help shape the person!

The benevolent legends at HubSpot have created a free persona template tool.

It’s cleverly designed so that you’ll have no difficulty identifying what information from your research goes where.

How to Use Your Persona to Make Marketing Decisions

You’ve done your research and you’ve created your personas.

You now have a name and a face for your ideal customer.

This alone should make crafting targeted marketing messages easier. But through asking all those questions, you now have a few more invaluable pieces of information that’ll make your marketing a lot more effective.

  • You know what keeps your customers awake at night
    You know the key problems you’re facing, so you can craft your ads to explain how you can solve these problems.
  • You know how your customers talk
    You know what sort of words they use, so you know what sort of words to include in your ads.
  • You know how to make them listen
    You’ll know whether to use a more conversational tone, or a super serious business tone.
  • You know what your customers really care about
    So you know what to focus on, and what not to focus on.

Stop Wasting Time on Untargeted Marketing!

When marketing is unfocused, it’s messy, expensive and very unlikely to get you the results you need. Take the time to understand your ideal customer and you’ll never have to worry about costly and ineffective marketing again.

Once you know who you want to reach, we can use laser-focused targeting to find your perfect customers at the right time, when they need you the most.

Head here to learn more about how targeted paid advertising can transform your business forever.

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